Telephone Conversation

The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. 'Madam' , I warned,
'I hate a wasted journey - I am African.'
Silence. Silenced transmission of pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came,
Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled
Cigarette-holder pipped. Caught I was, foully.
'HOW DARK?'...I had not misheard....'ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK?' Button B. Button A. Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered
Omnibus squelching tar.
It was real! Shamed
By ill-mannered silence, surrender
Pushed dumbfoundment to beg simplification.
Considerate she was, varying the emphasis-
'ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT' Revelation came
'You mean- like plain or milk chocolate?'
Her accent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave-length adjusted
I chose. 'West African sepia'_ and as afterthought.
'Down in my passport.' Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness chaged her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece 'WHAT'S THAT?' conceding 'DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS.' 'Like brunette.'
'THAT'S DARK, ISN'T IT?'
'Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but madam you should see the rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet.
Are a peroxide blonde. Friction, caused-
Foolishly madam- by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black- One moment madam! - sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears- 'Madam,' I pleaded, 'wouldn't you rather
See for yourself?'

by Wole Soyinka

Comments (5)

I see that PH has not fixed the errors I mentioned in my earlier comment last June.
a bit of updating and it'd be a great poem to hook a kid on verse
I prefer the reading of The Leprechaun's Ball.
A fanciful tale and interesting to read, but whoever typed it into Poem Hunter made a couple of spacing mistakes: catch TH ETINY clamour so we MAKEA shoe Will PH ever fix it? Do they ever read these comments? It was last edited on 29 June 2012. Let's see if they will fix it now (or not) .
onomatopoeia galore and the sounds are so clear the leprechaun or the shoemaker Either which is dear